The Boston Celtics have looked like arguably the NBA’s most complete team to begin this season. But it just goes to show how much talent there is around the league that they’re coming off two straight losses coming into tonight’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.
They’re still topping NBA odds boards to win the championship at many sportsbooks, but they’ll want to avoid a three-game skid with a strong showing on Friday, November 10.
The Nets are off to a strong start themselves. They’ve won three straight road games, have hung tough against the best in the Eastern Conference, and they just knocked off James Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.
Our NBA picks and predictions for Nets vs. Celtics believe Brooklyn’s health and matchup issues are going to lead to a dominant Boston victory.
Nets vs Celtics odds
Nets vs Celtics predictions
When the Boston Celtics blew up the previous version of their team to add Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, they took some heat for losing Robert Williams III, Marcus Smart, and Grant Williams. The main concern was frontcourt depth and the potential for a Porzingis injury.
Not only is Williams III unfortunately headed for likely season-ending surgery in Portland, the Celtics have been one of the healthiest teams in the Association to open the season.
Instead, it’s the opposing Brooklyn Nets who come into Friday’s tilt banged up. After a scorching hot scoring start, Cam Thomas is going to miss multiple weeks with an ankle injury. Cameron Johnson is potentially returning against Boston, but as he hasn’t played since October 25 it’s fair to wonder how much he’ll be able to give.
Defensive Player of the Year odds candidate Nic Claxton hasn’t played since November 1 and has no timetable for return. Ben Simmons last played Monday but is also questionable. As a result, a team already thin in the frontcourt is running out Dorian Finney-Smith, a small forward, as their starting center.
That puts immense pressure on the limited shot creation and scoring left in Brooklyn’s backcourt to keep things close. When these teams last played on November 4, it was Thomas who led the way with 27 points. Now that burden will fall to Mikal Bridges, who is looking more overtaxed as a legit No.1 option than many were expecting after his strong close to last year’s season.
Bridges is deferring more and scoring less. He looks more like the strong Phoenix Suns role player he was last year than a budding All-NBA talent. And he’s going to be in for tough sledding against the Celtics' backcourt.
Derrick White was notably absent when these two teams played on November 4, attending to the birth of his second child, and it’s really the combination of White and Holiday in the backcourt that has been suffocating opposing teams this year. With Holiday and Jrue ready to go and little other ballhandling or offensive help for Bridges, it’s hard to see how Boston does anything other than dominate the guard matchup.
Porzingis also poses a huge problem (literally and figuratively) for the Nets. They don’t have size at any position unless Simmons suits up, and relying on Simmons to sop up major rotation minutes at the five has not paid off in the past.
Where once opposing teams could survive defensively by sticking a small on KP and digging into his body on jump shots, he’s simply too strong for that now. He’ll comfortably post up smaller players or turn around and fire right over top of them. Without size to match, he seems to be a pressure point that Boston can go to at will to put the Nets into rotation.
So far Brooklyn has been beating the spread and winning games on the back of its offense. And that offense has been fueled by Thomas going on an absolute heater. Without him, I’m skeptical this Nets team has enough isolation-scoring firepower to deal with the Celtics switch-everything scheme.
Can Spencer Dinwiddie beat White or Holiday off the dribble or create an advantage against them? If not, then it falls to Bridges to do so on nearly every possession in the halfcourt. That’s simply not likely to produce sustainable offense.
Despite two straight losses, the Celtics are still leading the NBA in net rating at +13.8, and are fifth in terms of spread differential, outperforming spreads by an average of 4.6 points per game per Cleaning the Glass. I’m expecting that trend to continue as they handle and overmatched Nets team Friday night.
My best bet: Celtics -9.5 (-108 at Tonybet)
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Nets vs Celtics same-game parlay
Jayson Tatum Over 27.5 points
Kristaps Porzingis Over 19.5 points
I’m going with an all Celtics same-game parlay for Friday. In addition to a Boston cover, I like the Over on both Jayson Tatum and Porzingis’ points props.
Tatum is coming off a down performance against the Philadelphia 76ers where he scored just 16 points, but he’s averaging 28.4 points per game on the season and has had 30 or more in four of his last five games. Tatum will no doubt be eager to bounce back after two straight Celtics losses, and his size and shooting ability present Brooklyn’s defense with no easy answers.
Speaking of shooting and size, the matchup problem posed by Porzingis is perhaps even more potent. Porzingis is averaging just shy of 21 points per game and has scored 20 or more in three straight coming into Friday. The game is just so easy for him now that he’s closer to the team’s third option on any given night, and his 62.8 effective field goal percentage would be a career-high by leaps and bounds.
Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.
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Nets vs Celtics spread and Over/Under analysis
The spread for Friday’s Atlantic Division matchup opened at Celtics -9.5, and many books have since moved that line to -10.5. If you’re the kind to be solely convinced by trends, the Nets have been impressive against the spread this season, going 7-0-1 ATS.
But the matchup problems for the Nets are simply too big to ignore. A fully healthy Nets team might be another story, but the version being trotted out Friday against the Celtics is going to struggle on both ends.
The Nets and Celtics are similar in some regards. Both are wing-heavy teams that like to switch. The differences are important, however. Not only is there a massive talent gap between the Celtics' best players and the Nets, but the Celtics are huge and physical through their guard and wing spots in a way Brooklyn will have difficulty matching up with.
The Nets don’t have a traditional center — or even a facsimile available — with Claxton out for Friday’s game. Even if Bridges catches fire against Holiday and White, Tatum and Porzingis are going to tower over whoever they’re guarded by.
Friday’s total has seen some slight movement between 223.5 and as high as 225.5. As of early Friday morning, it’s being offered between 224.5 and 225.5 depending on the sportsbook.
Brooklyn’s defense is 20th overall, and that is frankly disappointing given the depth of their defensive talent. Injuries have obviously been a major factor, but players like Bridges, Simmons, and Dennis Smith Jr. should ensure some base-level comPetency on that end that has not come to fruition. The Over has cashed in five of Brooklyn’s eight Games this season.
I suspect Boston’s size advantages are going to make the Nets' defensive woes look even worse than they are. They’ve played in a lot of shootouts as well, which has seen the Over go 5-2 in Celtics games so far.
That said, I’m also struggling to see how the Nets get any efficient offense going against Boston. I’m loath to bet the total when I don’t see any way for the Nets to sustainably hold up their end of the bargain.
Nets vs Celtics betting trend to know
Nets vs Celtics game info
|Location:||TD Garden, Boston, MA|
|Date:||Friday, November 10, 2023|
|Tip-off:||7:30 p.m. ET|
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